International Journal of Intercultural Relations vol:39 pages:66-81
An increasing number of students from Asia participate in the global educational market. However, due to the large cultural disparity between Western and Asian countries, their adjustment is particularly challenging. As there is a lack of research exploring Asian international students’ adjustment processes in Europe, we decided to use the Flemish community of Belgium as an illustrating case to study the experiences of Asian international students in a non-Anglophone study environment, with a focus on their academic and socio-cultural adjustment. The method of photovoice was applied. Five Asian international students from KU Leuven were recruited as research participants. They participated in an information session, two rounds of photo taking and two focus group discussions. The participants experienced academic adjustment challenges in four domains: (1) academic activities, (2) academic resources, (3) languages and (4) time management. Participants’ socio-cultural adjustment was summarized into two broad themes: (1) cultural differences and (2) socio-cultural adjustment strategies. The findings suggest that for aspects of the host culture that are relatively easy to adapt to, participants generally tend to adopt an integration or assimilation acculturation strategy, while for primary cultural values and ideologies, students are more likely to adopt a separation strategy. Potential strategies for faculty and policy makers to respond to these challenges are discussed.